“Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief” – Rediscovering ‘The Greengage Summer’ (UK 1961 – 99 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 28, 2015

Known in the US as ‘Loss of Innocence’, Lewis Gilbert’s ‘The Greengage Summer’ is a colourful coming-of-age drama with an absorbing central mystery. Shot among the beautiful country landscapes in the champagne region of France, I think it’s a gentle and engaging movie with touches of humour and intrigue.

When their mother is taken ill while on a French vacation, it’s up to 16 year old Joss (Susannah York) to be carer to her three siblings. Stranded at the Hotel Oeillets run by Mademoiselle Zisi (Danielle Darrieux), charismatic stranger; Eliot (Kenneth More) pleads with Zisi to let them stay. She agrees, …

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The Tie That Binds – Rediscovering ‘Mousey’ (US/UK 1974 – 86 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 26, 2015

Also known as ‘Cat and Mouse’, the under-rated and engrossing thriller ‘Mousey’ is a little-known suspenser that, due probably to its television origins, fell off the radar after its short theatrical run.

Quiet, unassuming school teacher George Anderson (Kirk Douglas) who’s nicknamed ‘Mousey’ by his taunting students, arrives home to find his young wife Laura (Jean Seberg) and her son have left him. Although the boy was not his, George saw him as his son and is understandably distraught at Laura’s actions. Quitting his teaching job, the unstable George heads off to the big city, razor in hand and hell bent …

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One Way Love – Rediscovering ‘A Heart in Winter’ / Un Coeur en Hiver (France 1992 – 105 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 23, 2015

Deliberately paced but endlessly rewarding, the award-winning French drama ‘A Heart in Winter’ is hardly what you’d call a romantic movie, but more of an intelligent tale of romantic complications and our sometimes lack of emotions.

The ordered lives of esteemed violin makers Stéphane and Maxime are altered forever when beautiful young virtuoso; Camille, employs them to repair her beloved violin. Although she begins a relationship with the popular Maxime, Camille soon finds herself falling in love with the much quieter and reserved Stéphane who, while having clear feelings for Camille, is emotionally unable to commit to her. This, of …

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Heartbreakers, Lawbreakers and Loose Cannons – Remembering Tom Bell (1933 – 2006)

Remember ‐ January 21, 2015

Serious and thoughtful looking, Tom Bell was one of the UK’s finest actors to emerge in the early Sixties. Dark-haired and wiry with a rebellious streak and an unpredictability, he sadly never achieved the fame he could have once had.

Born in Liverpool on August 2nd 1933, Bell began in repertory before making his movie debut in Joseph Losey’s realistic prison drama ‘The Criminal’ (’60), starring Stanley Baker and Sam Wanamaker. A showy role soon followed in the exciting heist flick ‘Payroll’ (’61), as a loose-cannon crook, and he was then a brutal seaman in the Alec Guinness-Dirk Bogarde adventure ‘HMS …

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Domestic Disturbances – Rediscovering ‘Upstairs and Downstairs’ (UK 1959 – 101 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 19, 2015

Produced during the decline of the once flourishing Rank Organisation, ‘Upstairs and Downstairs’ is a very enjoyable domestic comedy-drama that was passed on by many cinema-goers at the time. Coming along during the ‘Kitchen-Sink’ era of movie-making, the film may have been deemed dated as the ‘British New Wave’ was also just taking off, with more realistic drama’s such as ‘Look Back in Anger’ and ‘Room at the Top’ also released that year.

The simple story follows newlyweds Richard and Kate Barry (Michael Craig and Anne Heywood) as they try to adjust to married life. Much of their newly-found stress comes …

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Fasten Your Seatbelts – Rediscovering ‘The Big Bus’ (US 1976 – 88 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 16, 2015

A funny spoof of 70’s disaster epics, the minor comedy hit ‘The Big Bus’ is a zany delight with a talented cast and plenty of gags. Although it still has a cult following, the movie has been somewhat forgotten and is often side-lined in favour of the enormously popular ‘Airplane’ (’80) which came along just four years later.

As huge nuclear-powered 32-wheel bus named Cyclops prepares for its first non-stop trip from New York to Denver, a corrupt tycoon (José Ferrer) has plans to destroy it. After the development is sabotaged a replacement driver is needed, calling on the washed-up Dan …

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Vanishing Act – Rediscovering ‘The Mystery of the Yellow Room’/Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune (France 2003 – 118 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 13, 2015

A terrific version of Gaston Leroux’s classic 1907 locked room whodunit, ‘The Mystery of the Yellow Room’ is a cosy countryside crime thriller which is both witty and thoroughly engaging. For somebody who has never been the biggest watcher of detective stories, this one had me hooked from the very first scene.

Late one night at the Château du Glandier, scientist’s daughter Mathilde Stangerson (Sabine Azéma) is attacked in her bedroom. With few clues and no additional means of entry other than the locked door, the police are soon baffled. Meanwhile, investigative reporter Joseph Rouletabille (Denis Podalydès) and his photographer …

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Big in Japan – Remembering Anicée Alvina (1953 – 2006)

Remember ‐ January 09, 2015

Petite and extremely pretty, Anicée Alvina was a good dramatic actress, but unfortunately after a promising start the uninhibited Anicée was too often typecast in sexual roles that often required her to disrobe more than to show her genuine talent.

Born Anicée Shahmanesh, in France, on January 28th 1953, Anicée was of French-Iranian parents and grew into a delicate beauty, with her long dark hair and brown eyes. Using the screen name Anicée Alvina and after playing a pregnant teen in a 1970 Annie Giradot comedy, 18 year old Anicée was introduced in Lewis Gilbert’s 1971 British drama ‘Friends’, playing …

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Models, Murders and Mysterious Mansions – Rediscovering ‘The House That Vanished’ (UK 1974 – 96 mins)

Rediscover ‐ January 07, 2015

Also known as ‘Scream…and Die!’, José Ramón Larraz’s obscure British thriller ‘The House That Vanished’ is a pretty standard and predictable picture, but one that’s laced with plenty of atmosphere and erotic moments to keep most fans of 70’s exploitation entertained throughout.

After witnessing a brutal murder at an old country house, beautiful model Valerie Jennings (Andrea Allan) soon realises that she may be the killer’s next victim. Her no-good boyfriend Terry (Alex Leppard) has also disappeared, and a photo of her which was in her car near the murder scene, has also vanished. With nobody believing her story, Valerie now …

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Lovable Leads and Comic Characters – David Wayne (1914 – 1995)

Rewind ‐ January 06, 2015

A cheery and very versatile performer, David Wayne was one of those actors like Jack Lemmon, who was comfortable in both comedy and drama, often excelling at both. A reliable lead in the Fifties and later a scene-stealing character actor, he gave many memorable performances in his 40 year career, both on screen and occasionally the stage.

Born Wayne James McMeekan on January 30th 1914, David Wayne first found great success on Broadway in 1947 before he began in the movies. He was the first actor to win a Tony award, for his supporting turn as the leprechaun Og, in ‘Finian’s …

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